VETERAN entertainer Rolf Harris complimented a friend of his daughter on her “lovely curves” but not in a “lurid way”, a jury has heard.
The 84-year-old was “very tactile” but would “run away” when giggling teenage girls visited his daughter Bindi, London’s Southwark Crown Court was told yesterday.
Former TV star Rosemarie Ford, who danced to Jake the Peg with Harris on the Generation Game, also told jurors that the performer had never behaved inappropriately.
He is accused of 12 counts of indecent assault involving four women between 1968 and 1986, all of which he denies.
Yesterday, Bindi’s friend Joanne Charles told the jury of six men and six women that when Harris gave her one of his bear hugs, it was like her father embracing her and that he would shy away from his daughter’s friends.
“When we were all together, I think we were too loud and too giggly and Rolf used to run away from the noise and the giggling. I think he thought we were all a bit too giggly, silly,” she told the court.
The witness said his embraces were paternal rather than sexual.
“It was lovely. It was affectionate,” she said. “Because I had known him for so long, it was just like having my father put his arms around me.”
Ms Charles’s father, Don Charles, ran a club in Malta where Harris would perform in the 1970s, the court heard.
When her family returned to the UK, she would go and stay with Bindi and her family.
Harris is accused of having molested another of his daughter’s friends from the age of 13, but Ms Charles said he had not shown any interest in the girl, whom she described as “bland”.
Asked about Harris’s behaviour when she got older, she said: “It’s been the same really. He has always been very cuddly, very warm, tactile.
“I think there were comments like, ‘Goodness, aren’t you a curvy girl? You’ve got such lovely curves’.”
But she said she did not find the remarks offensive: “No, I didn’t because it wasn’t in a lurid way, it was in a friendly, warm way.”
Harris admits having had a consensual sexual affair with the alleged victim from the age of 18.
Ms Charles said when she heard the news, “I was saddened and shocked. It’s a terribly sad thing, but as far as I saw it, that was his private life and it had nothing to do with me”.
Another witness, Anne Marie Eve, told the court her parents became friends with the Harrises when they moved to Bray, Berkshire, and the artist was “a totally lovely human being”.
The physiotherapist told the court that he was affectionate to her and her father.
“He would envelop you in a hug. He would envelop my father in a hug, which he found surprising as a physician.”
Telling the jury that he had never tried to grope her, she added: “There was never anything hidden about it.”
Ms Ford, who appeared alongside Bruce Forsyth on the Generation Game, said: “Rolf was a total professional. He was a delight to work with and easy to be with.” She said he had “absolutely never” behaved inappropriately.
Choreographer Dougie Squires, who was made an OBE for services to the arts, then recalled the five decades he had spent working with Harris.
He had a group of dancers called Young Generation who performed each week on the Rolf Harris show, including girls aged around 16 to 28. Mr Squires said Harris was “very popular with them as a father figure”.
The trial continues.